Australian Olympic Trials: James Magnussen Concludes Career Meet

ADELAIDE, Australia, March 21. JAMES Magnussen, known as The Missile in his home country, completed a career meet this week at the Australian Olympic Trials. The week-long performances included a sprint sweep as well as a textile best, and a pair of top-ranked times in the world.

FINALS
Men's 100 fly
Geoff Huegill, 33, had up until tonight been riding an incredible comeback story after returning to the sport in Nov. 2008 after retiring shortly after the 2004 Athens Olympics. That comeback story took a bit of a hit this evening once he missed out on qualifying for a third Olympic Games with a fifth-place time of 52.50. Trials proved to be just a bit too much for Huegill, who endured a double root canal heading into the meet.

“We've got excellent depth in the men's and the 200 butterfly in particular has come on in leaps and bounds which is credit to guys like Chris and Jayden,” Huegill said. “It's good to see the depth in the sport at the moment — it's just exploded. We've seen some lightning performances in the men's team over the last week and they've shown that there's plenty of depth in the freestyle, butterfly and medley, and that they'll be hot on the pace in London.”

Christopher Wright (51.67) and Jayden Hadler (52.09), meanwhile, earned the two Olympic roster spots for Australia in the event. Wright also had to overcome a personal setback as a back injury derailed his training for most of last year. Heading into tonight, Wright had already locked down a spot in the men's 200 fly.

“I can't get any more excited than that,” Wright said. “It's my first Olympic team, I'm just stoked to get on the team and to get two swims — the 100 and 200 — that was the main goal for me and I'm happy that I did that.”

Matt Targett (52.24), Nick D'Arcy (52.47), Sam Ashby (52.56), Daniel Lester (52.66) and Grant Irvine (53.39) rounded out the championship competitors in the event.

Men's 50 free
James Magnussen finished what proved to be a remarkable meet with a sprint sweep. After first taking down the 100 free with a textile best 47.10 earlier in the meet, Magnussen posted the top textile time by an Australian tonight in the 50 free with a 21.74, which is the seventh fastest performance all time. Incidentally, he also moved to the top of the world rankings this year, bypassing the 21.85 set by Cesar Cielo at last week's South American Championships.

“I've had six races, six wins and six improvements on my time,” Magnussen said. “I go into every race backing myself and I'll certainly be confident going into this event in London — people are going to sit up and take notice.”

Eamon Sullivan secured the second spot on the London Games roster with a 21.92 in the finale. Sullivan has had quite possibly one of the most snakebit careers in recent years with a run of illnesses and injuries throughout his career that includes several hip surgeries as well as an emergency appendectomy.

“You can't change the past, it's about the future,” he said. “It doesn't matter what you did in the pool it's about getting up on the blocks and looking forward.”

Matthew Abood (21.94), James Roberts (22.31), Andrew Abood (22.42), Cameron Prosser (22.55), Cameron McEvoy (22.55), Hamish Rose (22.65) also swam for the title.

Women's 200 back
Belinda Hocking clocked the top time in the world this year with a 2:06.68, also setting the Australian All Comers record in the process. She set that record a year ago with a 2:06.88 as the fastest time on Australian soil. She likely has some more in the tank heading into London, as she still has her Australian record of 2:06.06 in her crosshairs.

Meagan Nay overcame the tragedy of losing her brother, Amos, in a car accident in July 2009 to make her second Olympic squad with a 2:07.83 this evening.

No one else came close to Hocking and Nay in the finale, as Mikkayla Sheridan placed third in 2:10.33. Jenni O'Neil (2:12.42), Ellen Fullerton (2:12.67), Amy Forrester (2:13.11), Hayley White (2:15.82) and Jackie Staples (2:17.84) also competed in the finale.

Women's 800 free
Kylie Palmer secured her third event at the 2012 London Olympics with an 8:26.60 for the distance freestyle victory, nearly four seconds back of her Australian record of 8:22.81 set at the 2008 Beijing Games. Jessica Ashwood, meanwhile, earned her first Olympic bid with a second-place time of 8:27.97.

Melissa Gorman, a 2008 Olympian, wound up third in 8:29.73, while Remy Fairweather (8:29.93), Katie Goldman (8:38.04), Laura Crockart (8:45.04), Amelia Gould (8:48.31) and Belinda Parslow (8:48.92) rounded out the championship eight.

Men's 50 breast
Christian Sprenger, who also won the 100 breast earlier in the meet, topped the sprint breast event in 27.43. Brenton Rickard earned second-place honors with a 27.97, while Joshua Palmer picked up third in 28.39. Max Ireland (28.49), Luke Westgaard (28.59), Nikolas Pregelj (28.70), Karl Wurzer (28.77) and James Stacey (28.90) finished fourth through eighth.

Women's 50 fly
Alice Tait edged Jessicah Schipper, 26.59 to 26.65, for the sprint fly national title. Brianna Throssell, 16, placed third in 26.76, while Lucia Lassman, 13, picked up fourth in 27.28. Holly Barratt (27.54), Emily Nicol (27.55), Nicole Mee (27.61) and Celeste Astorino (27.67) also swam in the finale.

SEMIFINALS
Women's 50 breast
Leiston Pickett, who won the 100 breast title earlier in the meet, posted the top time with a 31.28. Sarah Katsoulis took second in 31.82, while Lorna Tonks placed third in 31.89. Samantha Marshall qualified fourth in 32.22, while 40-year-old Linley Frame placed fifth in 32.62. Taylor McKeown (32.62), Libby Forbes (32.67) and Amelia Dahlitz (32.70) also made the finale.

Women's 50 free
It was a sister act during semis as sisters Cate (24.55) and Bronte (24.78) Campbell led the way to the finale, both under the time (24.88) Olivia Halicek used to win the event at last year's championships. Libby Trickett, who made the squad as a relay member in the 100 free, is still looking for an individual swim after qualifying third with a 24.86.

Yolane Kukla (24.96), Halicek (24.98), Marieke Guehrer (25.11), Alicia Coutts (25.13) and Alice Tait (25.14) also made the finale.

Men's 50 back
Ben Treffers led the way with a 25.13, while Daniel Arnamnart touched second in 25.49. Andrew Gillespie (25.97), Max Ackermann (26.03), Joshua Beaver (26.06), Daniel Blackborrow (26.09), Matson Lawson (26.17) and Bob Jovanovich (26.27) picked up the other final transfer spots.

MULTI-CLASS FINALS
Amanda Fowler led the way in the women's 100 fly S14 division with a 1:11.56, while Prue Watt topped the S13 division with a 1:08.39 to earn her third Paralympics appearance. Sarah Rose paced the S6 division with a 1:34.70.

Tim Antalfy continued his incredible meet by twice lowering the men's 100 fly S13 world record. First, he clocked a 55.31 in prelims to top the global standard of 56.24 set by Ihar Boki of Belarus in 2005. Antalfy then dropped it even more with a 54.92 in the finale. Mitchell Kilduff led the S14 division with a 1:01.18, while Matthew Cowdrey earned the S9 win in 1:00.76.